Music creates mood. Music creates atmosphere. Music creates emotion.
Any professional magician or clown can greatly enhance their show by adding music. Music can be used before the show, while the audience is coming in to create mood. It can be used during "silent" routines such as card producions or the dancing cane.
But, where do you get the music? You cannot use the CD you bought at WalMart unless you purchase a license to use it. Any copyrighted music is automatically excluded from your show unless you pay the necessary fees.
You need to obtain a license from one of the Performing Rights Organizations to use copyrighted music. Even in a school show or birthday party show. Using copyrighted music without a license is illegal.
The organizations you need to know about are: BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC. Each of these organizations has a list of songs, recorded by various artists. A license gives you the right to use the songs on their list for an entire year.
If you are performing enough shows, this is the way to go if you want to use copyrighted music.
But what if you only perform parttime?
A great alternative is royalty-free music. You can have a musician friend record public domain songs for you. They might also be able to write some original music for you. But for the average performer, this might be difficult to arrange.
So you can buy music that has been recorded for performers. These songs will be royalty free and buying the CD gives full performance rights. (But read the label, some royalty-free music has a limited license.)
My favorite royalty free music is from Nathan Roberts. His Magitunes CDs have some great collections of royalty free songs. He also has royalty free introductions and sound effects.
Arthur Stead also has some terrific royalty free music CDs. He has special CDs with Christmas music and Halloween songs. Great if you do seasonal shows.
An internet search will also turn up other sources for the magician and other performers. Even if you only use music before your show, music will make your show better.
I hghly recommend that if you are not using music, get some now. If you are using copyright music without a license - stop. It is illegal, unethical and sooner or later it will bite you.
Good luck and God bless.